It can be a challenge for a group who portrayed a strong concept early in their careers to evolve past it. Purple Kiss have released multiple spooky and quirky concepts (most notably “Zombie” and “Sweet Juice”). Last fall’s “7Heaven,” however, was a brighter and more summery single than most of their other title tracks. Their latest mini-album BXX goes in yet another direction, one that, for better or worse, reflects the members’ desires to explore new sounds.  

In a Naver interview about this comeback, the Purple Kiss members shared that RBW invited them to all meetings about the album and sought their input with over 50 demo tracks. They contributed to the lyrics and/or songwriting for four of the album’s six tracks, and selected “BBB” as the title track because they thought it was catchy and had been wanting to try a hip hop concept. It is certainly commendable that Purple Kiss have ever-increasing creative input into their work.  

Unfortunately, “BBB” is mixed in quality as a listening experience. The song starts off promisingly, with Yuki and Chaein’s rhythmic vocals over a punchy synth beat. It ascends to even greater heights with the gorgeous melodic pre-chorus from Na Goeun, Dosie, and Swan. Ireh also brings heavenly vocals to the bridge.

After a beautiful build-up, however, comes a chorus with repetitive sing-talking. Though it has some brassy flourishes in the instrumental, and the hook is indeed catchy, the chorus as a whole feels monotonous. The one line where they are not chanting “Bad be–, bad be–, bad behavior” sounds fairly ridiculous (“Bad taste, best yum, likе caviar”). As a whole, the song is unconvincing in portraying the “bad bitch behavior” it talks so much about.

Na Goeun stated that she was proud of “BBB” because the group displayed “true sister chemistry,” and other members expressed that friendships between women are a major theme of the album. Purple Kiss’ chemistry is evident in the line distribution of “BBB,” with the interchange of five different members in the chorus, for example. Similarly, “Intro: Crush” features all six members, whereas some past album intros (such as “Intro: Bye Bye Bully”) have only utilized a subset.  

For all that the members have purported to emphasize female friendships, however, the album mainly focuses on romantic attraction and relationships as its subject matter. “Intro: Crush” cheekily brags “I know you’ve got a crush, crush on me” in layered vocals. The instrumental primarily consists of playful popping sounds, bearing some resemblance to a similar sound effect in “Sweet Juice,” but in a more whimsical manner. In “Toy Boy,” a groovy R&B song written by Na Goeun, the speaker relishes the hold she has over her “little toy.” The confidence of “Toy Boy” also comes through in Yuki’s smooth but assertive rap in the second verse: “With an attitude that leaves nothing to be desired, focus on me now.”

In contrast, “Bitter Sweet” calls love a “bitter, bitter, bitter game.” Musically and tonally, it is set apart from the rest of the album: While much of BXX consists of R&B tracks, house beats drive “Bitter Sweet” forward. In many ways, this high-energy song would make a fitting single, with its instrumental break providing a perfect opportunity for choreography. While the song may not be the vocal showcase that “BBB” or ballads like “Voyager” are, “Bitter Sweet” still contains satisfying moments, like Swan’s sliding vocals on the line “I’m feeling so weak” in the refrain. 

Purple Kiss have been known throughout their three-year career for their vocals, which are particularly expressive in “Heart Attack” and “Voyager.” Disco-pop track “Heart Attack,” Chaein’s songwriting contribution, is a highlight of the album with warm, layered vocals. Combining synths and sweet melodies and harmonies, “Heart Attack” feels dreamy and romantic. The closing song, pop-rock track “Voyager,” celebrates the members’ journey together through its heartfelt singing and lyrics:

Our story to color the blank canvas
Our voyage that unfolds from now on
The gently blowing wind feels so good
Hoist the sail, anywhere is okay

In contrast with the delicacy of the vocal performance in “Heart Attack,” “Voyager” consistently soars. With full-throated “yeah”s in the post-chorus, the song is an emotional high point of the album, and a fitting end. 

BXX features many of Purple Kiss’ musical trademarks, from ethereal vocals to unique choices in production. Purple Kiss have explored various tones and genres in their music thus far, and have the immense talent to pull most of them off. However, their team could more effectively communicate their artistic concepts moving forward: the members emphasized one theme during promotions, but the album largely did not center around this. The visual concepts for this comeback also were all over the place, with a punk hacker theme followed by images of the members wearing massive pink bows on their dresses. This inconsistency is emblematic of the problems with the album itself: BXX is full of impressive B-sides, and even “BBB” has stellar moments, but it lacks a strong message about its artistic direction.

(Naver, YouTube. Lyrics via Genius [1][2][3], YouTube. Images via RBW.)